I am giving myself a non-proprietary challenge

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TripleGoat
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Iscritto: 01/19/2015

Hi all,

I am new to this forum, and this is my first post. I have been using Ubuntu and playing with its various flavours for almost a year now. I have been a long term user of proprietary software and services ever since I first touched a keyboard. I don't belive that all companys that make proprietary software are inherently evil, but I do want to distance myself from the mega corparations that have a bad habit of hoovering up all your details. I still use lots of non-free software and the gap between proprietary and free software is like the Grand Canyon. I can't just leap into it and get to the other side without a rude shock. I need a bridge. Ubuntu was that bridge for me (or a tight rope).

The free software community was a bit intimidating at first glance. There are some very stong opinions out there, but I find the underlying values worth while and the end results suit my goals. My challenge to myself is to cross the rest of that bridge, see if the free software side suits my needs, to see if I can gradualy reduce the number of proprietary things in my life, and see if the results suit me.

So to the challenge: I have a Samsung Ultrabook. Ativ Book 7. Windows 8.1 64bit|Intel quad core i5-3337U 1.8 GHz|4 GB RAM|Intel HD graphics 4000|AMD Radeon HD 8500M series|LITEONIT LMT-128M6M 128 GB SSD|. It's been perfectly fine to use and given that I am already familiar with Ubuntu I would like to try Trisquel on it. All the important stuff is backed up and I have made a recovery USB for Windows if needs be.

Before I begin, I would like some advice on any potential hangups I may encounter. First off should I use Trisquel or Trisquel mini? I like GNOME so if it could handle it I would like to stick with Trisquel. Second and more importantly, hardware. I have had computers that worked perfectly fine with GNU/Linux and others that have been a disaster. If anyone out there has had any experence with Samsung Ultrabooks or knows if Trisquel dosen't play nice with any of the above hardware please share your experence.

I'll keep posting to the forums as I run into problems and look for free alternatives in my journey across the canyon.

Kind regards,
The TripleGoat.

lembas
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Iscritto: 05/13/2010

Hello there and welcome! Probably all the users of Trisquel started their journey with computers as users of proprietary software. There are some sacrifices to be made but I for one find that a price I pay gladly.

Trisquel mini is aimed at older hardware. Your brand new machine will easily run either. But it's also a question of personal preference. Try them both I say.

Hardware is tricky. I can immediately say your AMD video card will not work (You will not get accelerated 3D or accelerated video and perhaps other things.). AMD doesn't provide a fully free stack to use their hardware. Your wifi might not work, however should this be the case it's easily worked around with cheap new wifi hardware.

Since you've already made your backups, plunge right in!

Jabjabs
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Iscritto: 07/05/2014

I agree, don't bother with Mini - the full suit works fine on anything from the last 5-8 years easily. One of the machines I use it on is a 1.4Ghz Core 2 Duo very easily.

If there are any issues you have just ask as, there is always some here to help out. If you need recommendations for alternaives to proprietory software there is almost always guranteed to an excellent solution.

The best advice is simply to give it a try, you will be surprised at just how easy and how powerful these free systems can be.

Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

Your computer is rather powerful. However, you would get very reduced functionalities with the AMD graphics (no 3D acceleration, maybe not the full resolution for your screen, etc.). On the other hand, Linux-libre (hence Trisquel) perfectly supports Intel integrated graphics.

The other major issue is the support for Wifi. Nowadays, most cards do not work without proprietary firmware. You will discover whether yours works by running the Trisquel Live system (that you can then use to install Trisquel on the SSD disk). ThinkPenguin and Tehnoetic are the only vendors guaranteeing that Linux-libre perfectly supports their hardware. You cannot just go to a store and look at the boxes to find a supported Wifi card because the relevant piece of information (the chipset) is never written. It is never written because the manufacturers sometimes change the chipset of a model. As a consequence, a model that a user reported as "working" with Linux-libre might not work anymore. Anyway, if the report is recent enough, it will probably work. Here is in particular a rather cheap (< US$ 20) USB adapter I bought about one month ago and that was embedding (but probably still embeds) a chipset Linux-libre supports: http://www.tp-link.com/en/products/details/?categoryid=243&model=TL-WN722N

In conclusion, you want:

  • Trisquel GNOME edition;
  • to use your Intel integrated graphics (one way is to physically remove the AMD card; there may be a switch in the BIOS/UEFI too);
  • very probably (although you should first test with the Live system) a substitution for your Wifi card or a Wifi adapter that you would buy at http://libre.thinkpenguin.com or at http://tehnoetic.com).
SuperTramp83

I am a translator!

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Iscritto: 10/31/2014

welcome triplegoat!
Follow magicb's instructions and, as jabjabs said, if you encounter any problems just ask here or on irc #trisquel on freenode. You will always find help here.
cheers

a_slacker_here
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Iscritto: 06/29/2013

Hi, Don't feel intimidated because you can do almost everything you did with proprietary software. I made the switch almost a year ago and I can tell you I don't miss anything, in fact, I can do more with free software.

If you are coming from Windblowz (a little play on words by SuperTramp83) the first thing you will notice is how fast Trisquel is and it doesn't annoy you all the time like M$ system.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

Unless you're a user of Netflix, Hulu, or some other digitally restricted service, I think the only particular thing you'll miss, if it applies to you, is games. There aren't that many; I think the number of libre games that are worth mentioning is in the hundreds. This is a good index of completely libre (both libre software and libre culture) games:

http://libregamewiki.org

JadedCtrl
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Iscritto: 08/11/2014

As stated above, your AMD graphics will probably not work perfectly, like 3D acceleration.
I'd recommend replacing the AMD graphics with Intel graphics- you can do so for pretty cheap.
It's AMD's fault for not supporting Linux-Libre...
For wifi, if it doesn't work, you can get a USB wifi dongle at ThinkPenguin.com
https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-wireless-n-usb-adapter-gnu-linux-tpe-n150usb

I'd go with Trisquel (full) not Mini. Mini is rather chopped up and barebones (Mini has LXDE instead of GNOME), and it'll take longer to set up GNOME 3 on Mini than normal 7.
On Trisquel 7, you can install GNOME 3 along with all of it's applications via their PPA: https://launchpad.net/~gnome3-team/+archive/ubuntu/gnome3
As OnPon mentioned above, LibreGameWiki has a list of some great free and free culture games, although there are more free games that aren't free culture, if you're alright with that.

Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

To get GNOME Shell, you can simply install the "gnome-shell" package too. I do not think there are many differences between the one in Trisquel's repository and the one in the PPA.

JadedCtrl
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Iscritto: 08/11/2014

The one in the PPA is 3.12, the one in the repo is 3.10.
Most people won't care about the differences, but when I used GNOME the differences were glaring.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

Can you list those glaring differences, please?

tomlukeywood
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Iscritto: 12/05/2014
Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

Thank you. The GNOME Foundation makes awesome videos. :-)

TripleGoat
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Iscritto: 01/19/2015

Windows is resisting as I thought it might. When I try to boot from the live USB, the secure boot says no. I have dug into the UEFI BIOS and found the secure boot settings. I have selected "Custom" for the secure boot mode, and "Disabled" for default key provisioning. The live USB still is not working but there are additional settings in the same menu:

-Clear Secure Boot Keys

-PK Management

-KEK Management

-DB Management

-DBX Management

I am guessing using "Clear Secure Boot Keys" will let me boot from the live USB? I just want to know what this is going to do and be sure that I'm not going to harm my laptop in a way that's going to bite me back in the future.

The wonders of vendor lock in.

JadedCtrl
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Iscritto: 08/11/2014

I had to go through some scary things to get Trisquel set up on a friend's laptop, much like you do.
The BIOS settings threw some scary "Warning" messages, but when I disabled the option that's cryptically named, the USB worked.

"Clear Secure Boot Keys" is the option you want. It'll let you use the live USB, afterwards.

TripleGoat
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Iscritto: 01/19/2015

I've cleared the secure boot keys and got the live USB started with no trouble. Going through all the system settings most things are working just fine with a few exceptions.

I notice the GNOME Tweak Tool dosen't have an option for extensions. Is this removed in Trisquel or does it have something to do with my version (3.8.4)?

As you all predicted Trisquel dosen't seem to recognise my AMD graphics at all (I didn't disable it myself), instead it displays Intel Ivybridge Mobile. I looked around for the additional drivers program like I would in Ubuntu, but couldn't find it. I'm guessing because there are no free NVIDIA or AMD drivers, Trisquel dosen't include that program by default?

As predicted Wifi dosen't function and dosen't even seem to be an avaliable option. Ethernet and Bluetooth however work just fine. I see some of you have suggested Wifi adaptors but I would like to try the internal solution, save the USB port for something else and replace the Wifi card with this: https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/wireless-n-pci-express-dual-band-mini-half-height-card-tpe-nhmpcied

I did notice the caveat about Apple, HP, Lenovo, IBM, Dell, and Toshiba products being restricted to Wifi cards from the same manufacturer. My Ultrabook is a Samsung and physically looking at the Wifi card has an Intel stamp on it: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 Model:6235ANHMW. The Intel website says this card supports Linux, but I'm guessing that dosen't include the libre kernel.

I'm guessing since it's a Samsung Ultrabook with an Intel Wifi card it dosen't have the same vendor lock in as the other brands above? Does anyone have any experence here?

Jabjabs
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Iscritto: 07/05/2014

Trisquel and Linux Libre based system for that matter will not show or recommend any devices that need proprietory drivers. Your GPU/Wifi thus will not be listed.

Also while INtel are generally fairly good with their drivers, this does not apply to the Wifi where sadly they are lacking.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

Trisquel's default DE is based on GNOME Flashback, not GNOME Shell, so extensions are irrelevant and that section is hidden.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

If the Intel graphical chipset is used, then it is perfect!

Linux-libre has free drivers for both nVidia and AMD cards. The problem with AMD cards is the absence of free firmware (code that is running on the GPU, not the CPU).

Extensions are for GNOME Shell. Not for Trisquel's default desktop. If you want to try GNOME Shell and have the ability to use extensions to it, then install the "gnome-shell" package (e.g., from the "Synaptic package manager" in "System settings"), log out the graphical session and log in again after choosing the GNOME (rather than Trisquel) session. On the login screen, it is an icon to click near your user name.

I think you can swap the Intel Wifi card with the one you found at ThinkPenguin. Samsung is not known to use a DRM that prevents you from doing that.